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58 interview topics that will help you find the best candidates

One mistake people make when interviewing candidates is asking only about skills and experience. And while yes, those are important, they’re just one aspect to consider. To predict employee workplace behavior and on-the-job success, rethink the way you choose your interview topics.

Ask a few questions from each of the following categories: functional expertise, executive function skills, behaviors and drives, leadership capabilities, and whole person.

Here’s a list of 58 interview topics for you to choose from:

Functional expertise

1. Technical skills

2. Capability

3. Depth of knowledge in areas of expertise

4. Certifications

5. Education

HR leader discusses interview topics with job candidate

Executive function skills

6. Short-term planning

7. Long-term planning

8. Effective communication

9. Work ethic

10. Coachability

11. Strategic planning

12. Goal setting

13. Delegating authority and details

14. Decision making (quantitative and qualitative)

15. Critical thinking

Behaviors and drives

16. Attention to detail

17. Process orientation

18. Tenacity

19. Resourcefulness

20. Grit

21. Resilience

22. Drive

23. Competitive spirit

24. Commitment to excellence

25. Risk management

26. Taking initiative

27. Collaboration

28. Decision making

–>> Use the PI Behavioral Assessment to hire based on behavioral job fit.

Leadership capabilities

29. Preferred management style

30. Receiving feedback

31. Giving feedback

32. Providing coaching

33. Managing people effectively

34. Inspiring followership

35. Managing up, down, and across the organization

36. Adjusting management style based on employee feedback

37. Managing high-performing teams

38. Ability to transform a mediocre team into a high-performing team

manager interviewing candidate

Understanding the whole person

39. Growth areas

40. Blind spots

41. Defining candidate traits

42. Cultural fit/add

43. Role models and mentors

44. Learning style

45. Stress management

46. Energy/passion

47. Character

48. Personal communication style

49. Career trajectory

50. Career goals

51. Major accomplishments

52. Adaptability

53. Work-life balance/integration

–>> Get our 2020 Report: The Impact of Behavioral Drives in a Remote Workplace.


54. Preparation/research

55. Comfort with conflict

56. Conflict resolution

57. Negotiation

58. Ability to disagree and commit

Divide interview topics and conquer

Meet beforehand to divide interview topics among interview team members. This ensures you cover the right topics and people aren’t asking redundant questions. Remember, there are two main goals of an interview: Find out what you need to know and offer the candidate an excellent experience. That way, if you do make an offer, they’ll be more inclined to accept!


Kristen is the people operations manager at PI. She sang the national anthem for the Boston Celtics, Boston Bruins, and Harlem Globetrotters.

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